Sunday, November 4, 12:00 Noon at Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
TV: Comcast SportsNet Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic FM | Live Stats
NOTE: Comcast SportsNet HD is now on XFinity® Channel 847
by Warren Croxton and Max Rappaport
MATCHUP TO WATCH:
C Tyson Chandler vs. F-C Spencer Hawes
Last season, skilled seven-footer Spencer Hawes missed 34 games due to back and achilles injuries, but still posted solid numbers in the 32 games in which he did appear, averaging 9.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per contest. His 2.6 assists per game ranked third among all centers last year. In his first eight appearances last season, before suffering a strained lower back, he posted career numbers, averaging 12.5 points (62.7% FG), 10.3 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 1.8 blocks in 30.0 minutes per night.
In Wednesday’s home opener, the 23-year-old big man looked to have his early 2011-12 form back, coming off the the bench to contribute an impressive 16 points (6-of-11 FG), 12 rebounds, two assists, and five blocks in 31 minutes, earning head coach Doug Collins’ Ace of Spades award.
Sunday, Hawes, and his Sixer frontcourt-mates, will have their hands full as they face off against the New York Knicks and reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler. The All-NBA third-teamer averaged 11.3 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks in his first season in New York in 2011-12. He also led the league in field goal percentage at 67.9% and finished ninth in total rebounds.
For Hawes to be effective inside against Chandler, he’ll need to look for his opportunities and use his great playmaking ability to find open teammates when his shot isn’t there. The Knicks are a team that likes to switch defensive assignments on screens, which could give the Sixers some opportunities to exploit mismatches on the court.
Who Were They Last Season?
Following the offseason acquisition of lockdown post defender Tyson Chander, lofty expectations were placed upon the New York Knicks. After getting out to a slow, 18-24 start, head coach Mike D’Antoni resigned, propelling assistant coach Mike Woodson, a former assistant with the Sixers (2001-03) and head coach of the Atlanta Hawks (2004-10) into the lead role. The Knicks won nine of their first 10 games under Woodson, and 18-6 overall, qualifying them for the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. Despite marked improvement under Woodson during the regular season, New York lost in five games to the eventual NBA Champion Miami Heat in the first round.
Coach Woodson’s affinity for isolation basketball is well documented. As the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks from 2004-10, he put the ball in the hands of Joe Johnson, allowing the 6-8 swingman to attempt an average of 18.2 shots per game (the ninth-most in the league during that time). In his time with the Knicks, he’s looked to do the same with Carmelo Anthony.
With Amare Stoudemire on the mend, head coach Mike Woodson has given Carmelo Anthony even more scoring responsibility within his offense. The 6-8 forward attempted 28 shots in his team’s season-opening win over the defending champion Heat Friday, scoring 30 points and pulling down 10 boards. Under Mike Woodson last season, Anthony’s scoring improved from 21.3 points per game to 24.5 points per game, while he greatly improved his field goal percentage, from 40.0% to 47.0%.
The five-time NBA All-Star has never in his career averaged fewer than 20 points per game and is considered by many to be the league’s best pure scorer. Able to knock down shots from a almost anywhere on the court, Thaddeus Young will have his work cut out for him, as he opens the game defending Anthony from the power forward position.
New York comes into Sunday’s game with some significant injury concerns. This week, All-Star big man Amare Stoudemire underwent surgery on his left knee that will cause him to miss 6-8 weeks of game action. 2011-12 NBA All-Rookie Team member Iman Shumpert suffered a left knee injury during the 2012 postseason that required offseason surgery. The defensive-minded swingman is expected to miss the next 2-3 months. Finally, newly acquired veteran center Marcus Camby missed the Knicks’ entire preseason with an injured calf and did not see any action in Friday’s opener against the Heat.
LAST TIME THEY MET:
3/21/2012 - Sixers 79, Knicks 82
Amare Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin led the way for the Knicks, with 21 and 18 points, respectively, as the Knicks won their fifth game in a row under newly promoted head coach Mike Woodson. The Sixers missed their first 14 shots, but still managed to finish the game with a better shooting percantage (38.0%) than did the Knicks (36.7%). New York finished the game with eight straight free throws to seal the win down the stretch. Philly had five scorers in double figures, led by Jrue Holiday, with 16 points. Elton Brand had a double-double – 12 points and 12 rebounds.